A Louisiana man went on what appears to be a shooting spree, leaving four dead. The apparent shooter, 38-year-old Ben Freeman, launched his attack on Thursday approximately 45 miles southwest of New Orleans in LaFourche Parish. Police believe the killings may have been motivated by frustration over an ongoing custody battle between Freeman and his former wife.
Police report that Freeman and his former wife, Jeanne, had had ongoing disputes. LaFourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre has said “there has been a very difficult and complicated divorce/custody issue going on.” Jeanne had apparently taken out multiple protective orders against Freeman, the last of which expired about a month ago. He had also pleaded guilty to harassment charges related to his treatment of Jeanne and was allowed only supervised visitation with the former couple’s four children.
According to police, Freeman’s first victims were his former in-laws, Louis Philip and Susan Gouaux and their daughter, Andrea, of Lockport, Louisiana. Police were first notified of the shootings Thursday evening when Louis Philip, a LaFourche Parish councilman, made a 911 call to report that Freeman had come to his home and shot him in the throat. His wife and daughter had also been shot. Louis Philip and Andrea were taken to a local hospital where they are reported to be in critical but stable condition, Louis Philip’s wife, Susan died from her injuries. Louis Philip and Susan Gouaux are the parents of Freeman’s former wife, Jeanne.
Just 20 minutes after shooting the Gouaux family, Freeman made his way to the home of Milton Bourgeois, just eight miles away in the town of Raceland, Louisiana. Bourgeois was shot at close range and died, his wife Ann was also shot but has been reported by police to be in stable condition at a local hospital. Bourgeois was a hospital administrator at a hospital where Freeman had previously worked as a nurse and been fired.
Freeman’s current wife, Denise Freeman, was later found dead in Terrebonne Parish. Police have not yet provided word on the cause of her death, though it is assumed to be linked to Freeman.
Freeman’s body was eventually found in his car, he apparently turned his gun on himself and took his own life.
Freeman’s Louisiana shooting spree that left four dead was not the only fatal shooting in the state to mar the holiday season on Thursday. Another shooting in Slidell, Louisiana, outside New Orleans, left two dead and six injured. That incident occurred after a fight that began in a bar made its way to the street outside and resulted in shots being fired back and forth, some of which made there way toward crowds of onlookers in the streets.
Two men, Errol Scott, 22, and Mark Womack, 23, were killed, one was prounounced dead at the scene and the second at a local hospital. The six injured have been reported as in either “stable or guarded condition.”
Police say that their investigation into the incident is ongoing but that they have identified at least one suspect and that they “will not stop until the person and/or people responsible for this horrific crime are caught.”
More details are sure to emerge surrounding both in Freeman’s shooting, that left four dead, including himself, and the bar shooting that killed two, as police continue their respective investigations.
By Michele Wessel